Remember that old ch-ch-ch-chia pet you used to have?
Turns out, chia is an edible seed that is packed with fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and calcium, to name a few. Chia seeds are digestible in their whole form, unlike flax seeds, which need to be ground. Chia comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, grown in Mexico, dating back to Mayan and Aztec cultures.
One ounce (golf ball size) of chia seeds provides:
- 138 calories
- 5 g protein
- 12 g carbohydrate
- 10 g fiber (39% daily target)
- 5.1 g ALA (alpha-linoleic acid)
- 18% daily calcium needs
- 12% daily iron needs
- Also a good source (more than 10% of daily needs) of copper, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, thiamin and niacin.
ALA is a plant source of omega-3 fatty acids — 5.1 g of ALA provides 460% of your daily needs.
Chia seeds are outstanding sources of fiber and calcium. As a comparison, 1 cup of low fat milk contains 30% of your daily calcium needs, while 1 ounce of chia contains 18%.
Fiber is key to a healthy diet; it helps keep your bowel movements regular and helps regulate cholesterol levels. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It helps to keep you feeling fuller longer, which may help you to control portion sizes better. Fiber needs are as follows:
- Men 50 years and younger: 38 grams (g) fiber per day
- Men 51 years and older: 30 g fiber per day
- Women 50 years and younger: 25 g fiber per day
- Women 51 years and older: 21 g fiber per day
Chia seeds are easy to add to foods you already eat:
- Sprinkle on oats or cereal, yogurt, or add to baked goods
- Mix 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water and let sit for 10 min to make an egg substitute for baking – great for vegans or those with an egg allergy
Contrary to internet claims, chia is not a weight loss miracle, but it is a healthy addition to your daily routine and may help you feel fuller due to its high fiber content.